Comedian Jo Koy, in town for a Friday and Saturday run, got his start in stand-up in Las Vegas. It was a tough city for a young performer, and Koy spent lots of his time in those days booking himself. "I did everything," he recalls, laughing. "I'd rent a hall for $600. I'd sell advertising on the back of the tickets and in the programs. I'd go around and sell tickets. They were always two-for-one; I didn't sell full-price tickets back then. I'd do the show and then keep the money from the door. I spent years shaking people's hands and saying, 'Please come see my show.' It was crazy, but that's what I had to do."
These days, Koy, one of only a handful of comedians ever to receive a standing ovation on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, still spends lots of time shaking people's hands. Now it's with hundreds of fans during after-show meet-and-greets. Some other comedians limit their meet-and-greets to VIP ticketholders or are available for only a limited time, rushing fans through. "I will never do that," Koy says earnestly. "Are you kidding? Shaking hands got me my start. I'll stand there for hours if there's somebody waiting after a show. Believe me, I would so much rather do that than have to go around renting halls and selling ads. Shaking hands? That's the easy part."
Koy gets funny at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Improv Comedy Showcase, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit houston.improv.com. $25 to $55.
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On Saturday, ABC Body Art, with ten years experience to its credit, presents The Flesh Peddler's Ball at Cover Girls. It's a "circus-styled celebration of body art." Vonetta Berry of ABC Body Art is a veteran of the Body Art Battles hosted at Fitzgerald's back in 2007. To Berry, this is the right time for another big body-art bash. "We had a vision that we'd do something to showcase not only what we do, but what other artists do as well. Body art is here to stay. It's not a passing fad, and there are incredible things you can do with it."
Attendees will not only be able to see incredible examples of body art but will have chances to get their own paint -- or paint their significant others. The event will take over the entire second floor of the men's club Cover Girls, which includes four stages, two bars and both standing and seated areas. The program includes male and female exotic dancers, burlesque performers, vendors selling adults-only items (like whips), dessert stations, henna art and more. VIP tickets, which allow early access to the event and all interactive areas, are only $10 more than regular tickets.
The Flesh Peddler's Ball at Cover Girls starts at 8 p.m. 10310 West Little York. For information, visit abcbodyart.com/flesh-peddlers-ball. $15 to $25.
Buddy Holly had a brief 18-month career. In that short time, the Lubbock-born rock and roller carved out a Mount Rushmore-like place in pop culture. He died, along with fellow performers Ritchie Valens, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson, in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. That became known as "the day the music died."
His dramatic story is told on Friday and Saturday through the musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. The show, among the most successful jukebox musicals, stars 31-year old Albany, New York, native Todd Meredith. He was working on a music career when he got his acting break, and after 17 tours as Holly, he's still enthusiastic about the rocker's music.
Meredith notes he backed into a love of Holly after hearing the Beatles on his parents' oldies stations. "The Beatles inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place...later I discovered Buddy had been such an inspiration and hero to them. I've been playing Buddy's songs 15 years now and I still find them fresh and fun. They've got that pure joy of rock and roll thing."
Meredith attributes the huge success and long shelf life of the production to the power of Holly's music as well as the unique drama surrounding Holly's singular career. "It's such a moving story about remarkable talent and creativity coming from this small-town kid. Coupled with the tragic ending, it's hard not to find joy and inspiration in Buddy's story. The trick is to keep it fresh, and with that in mind, the producer brought in some of the creative staff from the London production for this tour. They've made some very effective alterations that keep the show interesting and energetic."
The two-hour performance features 20 Holly tunes including "Peggy Sue" and "Oh Boy!" as well as "La Bamba" by Richie Valens and "Chantilly Lace" by Beaumont singer The Big Bopper.
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story runs at 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑227‑4772 or visit spahouston.org. $28 to $78.
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On Sunday, Classical Theatre Company spares its audience the usual Sherlock Holmes clichés in its reboot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Speckled Band: An Adventure of Sherlock Holmes. (There's no "Elementary, my dear Watson," for example.) Doyle's original short story, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, centers on Helen Stoner and her quarrelsome stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott. Helen's twin sister died mysteriously on the eve of her wedding, so as Helen's own wedding quickly approaches, she reaches out to Holmes to protect her from the same fate.
This isn't the original short story or the 1910 play adaptation by Doyle himself -- it's a new adaptation by Timothy N. Evers. It modernizes the tale and re-instates some of the features of the short story that Doyle left out of the stage -adaptation.
CTC Executive Artistic Director John Johnston stars in the mystery. "This particular adaptation creates fuller characters than Doyle's stories manage," said Johnston. "There are moments of relationship between Watson and Holmes, as well as Roylott and his stepdaughter Helen, that are, quite frankly, more interesting than the characters that Doyle wrote."
Troy Scheid, longtime veteran of the CTC, directs this production. She agrees that Evers's character development is a huge asset to the story. "Evers's adaptation has streamlined [the plot] and put the focus on the characters and their conflicting desires. Notably, he retained the most important and interesting change from the short story: the development of the character of Dr. Roylott, a violent and unpredictable domestic tyrant," Scheid said. Don't be too concerned, though -- the show will still have the same late-19th-century-London feeling, no doubt with plenty of gloom to spare. "While we retain the original setting of the piece, we want to put together a piece that is raw, immediate and pretty scary, within a world where Holmes and Watson can be relied on to find a solution," Scheid said.
See The Speckled Band at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and February 9; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through February 22. 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713‑963‑9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org. $20.
Thoughtfully designed utensils, dinnerware, tables, chairs and more make up the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft's "Dining and Discourse: A Discussion in Three Courses," another of our choices for Sunday. A veritable feast of dining design, the exhibition showcases works from 26 emerging and mid-career artists examining the historical and contemporary relationship we have with our food-related tools through wood, glass, ceramics, fiber, metal and mixed media. Exhibition organizer and HCCC Curatorial Fellow Kathryn Hall says she hopes that audiences "will come with an open mind, but also have fun with [the show]." Showcasing a subject so close to our hearts -- and stomachs -- "Dining and Discourse" seeks to inspire a dialogue about our food culture in the gallery and at the table.
The show is arranged into three dining-room vignettes. The first of these, titled Role Play, investigates how alternative materials and forms can alter the abilities of our most classic of dining instruments. For example, Studio WAC's Obus Lofts' Dining Table has space for a dinner party of five with two corners that bend downwards. This folding of the table's corners also creates two novel, intimate niches.
Sam Chung, too, breaks with tradition in Place/Setting, Centerpiece, a set of unusual porcelain vessels that thanks to their unique organic shapes nestle naturally around, as well as into, one another.
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The Hunter-Gatherer scene investigates our domination over nature as revealed on the dinner table throughout history. The clean yet rustic design of Seth Gould's meat cleaver Non Si Butta Via Niente takes a direct approach to this relationship by featuring an exquisitely polished pig bone for a handle. Pieces in this group also draw on our growing interest in sustainability. The fascinating Trends in Water Use by Adrien Segal is a coffee table with a canyon running through it. Segal used an aerial outline of the Colorado River as well as statistics on America's water consumption from 1950 through 2000 to determine the proportions of her data sculpture's ravine.
The feast's grand finale is Opulence and Excess, which puts a new spin on the decadence of decorative design. Works in this scene take inspiration from the Old World's focus on ornamentation and exclusivity and combine it with the New's interest in sustainability and accessibility. Shari Mendelson's Green Vessel with Long Neck is an amusing amalgamation of textures and shapes and is made entirely of plastic, hot glue and acrylic polymer. Although crinkled and slightly crooked, the vase's neck possesses the delicacy of ancient Greek glassware; meanwhile, its bulbous body features a chunky mosaic texture. These characteristics combine to produce the vessel's futuristic hybrid or "recycled" aesthetic.
Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through May 10. 4848 Main. For information, call 713-529-4848 or visit crafthouston.org. Free.
Phaedra Cook, William Michael Smith, Alexandra Doyle and Alexandra Irrera contributed to this post.